Knoxville Zoo Saddened by the Unexpected Loss of Jackie Chimpanzee

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Knoxville Zoo Saddened by the Unexpected Loss of Jackie Chimpanzee

Posted: 03/05/2010
Knoxville Zoo is saddened to announce the death of Jackie, a 35-year-old female chimpanzee, due to complications with her pregnancy. Jackie came to Knoxville Zoo in March of 2008 from the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo with companions Bo and Binti. The move was a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which manages the placement and reproduction of endangered chimpanzees in zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in the U.S. Upon her arrival, she was reunited with Jimbo, a male chimpanzee who was her long-time companion in Cleveland before his move to Knoxville in 2006. The SSP made a breeding recommendation for Jimbo and Jackie shortly thereafter, and Jackie was confirmed to be pregnant in late 2009. Zoo staff anticipated her to give birth sometime between mid-March and mid-April.

Jackie began showing signs of the early stages of labor but the delivery was not progressing. After consultation with University of Tennessee veterinarians and local OB/GYN specialists, the decision was made to transfer her to the UTCVM. Ultrasounds revealed twins with congenital abnormalities that would have made it impossible to survive. Once it was determined the fetuses were not viable, the decision was made to induce labor due to the risk to Jackie's health. Unfortunately, Jackie succumbed to complications despite the exhaustive efforts of her medical team.

"We're very saddened by the loss," says Executive Director Jim Vlna. "We had no indications that there were any problems throughout the pregnancy, and we had hoped to celebrate the birth of a healthy baby, but unfortunately nature doesn't always give you the outcome you hope for. Right now our focus is on the well-being of the rest of the chimpanzee troupe and helping them cope with the loss." 

This is a difficult day for staff at Knoxville Zoo. Expressions of sympathy for the primate staff may be sent to Attn: Thoughts for Jackie, Knoxville Zoo, P.O. Box 6040, Knoxville, TN 37914, or through Knoxville Zoo's Facebook page at or on Twitter @knoxvillezoo.

Knoxville Zoo is located off exit 392 from Interstate 40 and is open every day except Christmas Day. The zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is committed to the highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open every day from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Beginning March 13, zoo hours will be weekdays from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and weekends from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission and ticket sales stop one hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865-637-5331 ext. 300 or visit